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Get screened, pronto

Essential guide to types of cancer screenings 2023

World Cancer Day 2023: Close the care gap

01 Feb 2023
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Essential guide to types of cancer screenings 2023

Cancer screening is an important tool for individuals to detect early signs of cancer before symptoms appear.

It is estimated that 1 in 5 individuals worldwide may develop cancer before the age of 75.

Cancer screening aims to help individuals detect cancer at an earlier stage or conditions that may lead to cancer before any symptoms appear. This makes it an effective tool for reducing cancer deaths, as cancer treatment is most effective when the cancer is discovered at an early stage.

For example, as colorectal cancers typically evolve from colonic polyps over a few years, a colonoscopy—which is used as a colorectal cancer screening tool—may help prevent colorectal cancers through the detection and removal of precancerous polyps.

Types of cancer screening include physical examinations, laboratory tests and imaging. Some cancer screening can also be done through self-examination at home e.g. breast self-examination.

In Singapore, the uptake of screening is suboptimal as illustrated in the following figure:

Cancer Screening: At a glance
37.9% women age 50–69 who have undergone mammography in the last 2 years* <1 in 2 women who have undergone cervical cancer screening* 41.1% residents age 50–74 who have undergone colorectal cancer screening within the recommended screening frequency*
*National Population Health Survey 2020, Ministry of Health
Types of Cancer Screening^
Cancer Type Breast Cancer Colorectal Cancer Cervical Cancer
Screening Types Mammography
  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT)
  • Colonoscopy
  • CT colonography
  • Pap smear
  • HPV test
Gender Female Male & Female Female
Age 40 & Above# 45 & Above##

21 & Above###

^Types of screening and ages shown are based on local population screening recommendations.
# Source:
## Source:
### Source:

Healthy individuals can discuss additional individualised screening tests for prostate cancer, liver cancer, gastric cancer and lung cancer with their doctors.

It is important to follow the recommendations for cancer screening. Regular screening gives you the best chance of detecting cancer early.

This article was contributed by Dr Wong Siew Wei for Parkway Cancer Centre. Permission required for reproduction.

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